The Invisible Link – dialogues between lab and clinic in neurodegenerative disorders

Date: Wednesday, 10th February, 2016, 21h00 

Duration: ~2hrs, including 3 talks and activities with the audience.

Venue: Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Auditorium, 

In support to Maratona da Saúde

Speakers: Durval Costa, Joaquim Silva

Hosts: Daniel Nunes, Liad Hollender

Registration is now open

Live streaming starts at 9pm on the 10th February!

Parkinson’s Diseases, Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis. We’ve all heard of these conditions. We know that they are caused by neurodegeneration – death of certain populations of neurons in the brain. We know they are severely debilitating, incapacitating and incurable. We also know that they eventually lead to death.

What are we doing as a society to fight against these diseases? At “The invisible link – dialogues between lab and clinic in Neurodegenerative disorders”, we decided to explore two approaches that may appear distinct, but are in fact tightly linked – basic and clinical research.

What is basic research? Basic research asks the why and the how. Its main goal is to expand human knowledge and find answers to fundamental questions such as – What is the universe made of? How did life begin? How does the brain work?  Clinical research, on the other hand, focuses on patients and concentrates on developing solutions to outstanding needs and to preventing and curing disease. Clinical research seems to target everything we care about. It deals with issues that are urgent and relate to us in a very personal way. Why is it, then, that we pursue basic research at all? Is it really urgent to know what is the neural basis of emotions, or why do we need to sleep?

The answer is yes, for two reasons. The first is that one of the best things about being human is being able to understand the world we live in. The second reason for why we need answers to basic questions, is that we never know where they will lead us. There are many examples where the curiosity of scientists has led to results of significant applied potential. Curiosity that has led to inventions and cures.

To examine the relation between basic and clinical research, this event our speakers will show you some links between basic and clinical research, where basic research led to applications in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. The first speaker, Prof. Durval Costa, the head of the Nuclear Medicine Unit at Champalimaud Clinical Centre in Lisbon will talk about Nuclear Medicine and how radiopharmaceuticals were used from basic research to clinical applications. The second speaker, Dr. Joaquim Alves da Silva, will talk about past breakthroughs in medicine that would not have been possible without basic research and current basic research innovative tools in that might lead to the breakthroughs of the future.

“People cannot foresee the future well enough to predict what’s going to develop from basic research. If we only did applied research, we would still be making better spears”. Dr. George Smoot, 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics 


This event will be held in support of Maratona da Saúde, an organisation which raises funds for scientific research with the goal of accelerating discoveries that can lead to innovative treatments for the cure of disease. This year they are targeting Neurodegenerative diseases.

Entrance is free and subject to availability.  A 1 euro donation, at the event, for Maratona da Saúde would be highly appreciated.

Ticket reservations must be done through our Eventbrite website. We will announce soon when will they open.
Limited seats will be available to people without reservations on the event evening on a first come, first served basis.
People with reservations MUST arrive before 8.50pm on the evening of the event. After that, tickets will be given for people without reservations.

Live streaming will be available during the event at the following website:

 Reserve your seat here

Prof. Durval Campos Costa is the Director of the Nuclear Medicine-Radiopharamacology Unit at Champalimaud Clinical Centre. In addition to his work at the clinic, he also holds several national and international positions such as the President of the Executive Committee of The European Union of Medical Specialists (mandate 2012 – 2015). Dr. Costa has more than 30 years of experience in all diagnostic and therapeutic (outpatient and inpatient) activities in Nuclear Medicine. He has pioneered the introduction of new diagnostic radiopharmaceutical methodology in Psychiatry, Neurology and Cardiology, since 1985 to present, all with international recognition. These include markers of cerebral blood flow and dopamine metabolism within the Central Nervous System that he developed from basic research to clinical applications.

Dr. Costa’s research interests include the development of new radiopharmaceuticals and application protocols for the investigation of disease physiopathology and its progression. He also extensively studies Functional Neuroimaging through basic research and clinical development of several radioisotopic markers.  In addition, he conducted basic research and clinical development of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and PET-CT in Oncology, Neurology and Cardiology.

Dr. Joaquim Silva

After obtaining his MD degree, Joaquim Alves da Silva specialised in Psychiatry with a special interest in old age psychiatry. Following this, he decided to initiate a clinical PhD focused on the relation between dementia and affective disorders (depression and bipolar disorder). However, after joining the Gulbenkian MD PhD programme he fell in love with the (up to that moment) unknown world of basic research. At that time he took the daring decision of starting a basic neuroscience PhD project at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme under the supervision of Dr. Rui Costa. This decision was mainly due to his conviction that unless we unveil the nuts and bolts that underlie the biology of behaviour, we will keep struggling to understand why is it that the brain sometimes breaks. Remarkably, at the end of his PhD, he still thinks the same way.

Although he has drastically reduced his clinical work during his PhD, he keeps seeing patients and keeps teaching future MDs at the Nova Medical School where he collaborates in different areas, from Medical Psychology and Psychiatry to Fundamental Neuroscience.

Daniel Nunes studied Biology at Universidade de Coimbra and did his PhD in Neurosciences at Heidelberg University, Germany. He is currently a Post-Doc Researcher at the Neuroplasticity and Neural Activity Lab, working in functional imaging of brain circuitry.
Liad Hollender grew up in Israel, but has spent many years in the USA where she earned a PhD in Neuroscience. She has been living in Portugal for the last 5 years. Here, she has been working at the Science Communication Office of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme.



“Here is a nice example of how basic research can lead to unexpected breakthroughs” – Liad Hollender

This video “Funding Basic Science to Revolutionize Medicine” was submitted by Florie Charles, Nir Oksenberg, Marta Wegorzewska, Osama Ahmed, Argenta Price, and Christin Chong and is a winner of the 2013 FASEB Stand Up for Science Competition.


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